Articles Tagged: rewatch

S2, E10: “Bart Gets Hit By A Car”

“Remember: lie, cheat, steal and listen to Heavy Metal music!” – The Devil.

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Written by: John Swartzwelder

Weirdly enough, I couldn’t remember much about this episode beyond the fact that Bart gets hit by Mr. Burns in the opening scene, but when I first heard Phil Hartman’s voice as the Escalator to Heaven I literally yelled “PHIL HARTMAN!” at the TV.

It’s really not saying much to say that Phil Hartman was my favorite of all of the guest voices on The Simpsons, but it’s kind of interesting to notice that his characterization of Lionel Hutz was there from the very very start, even as Azaria was still not quit there with Dr. Nick, who also makes his debut in this episode.

And really, just the thrill of knowing that Hartman was going to start turning up again and again was good enough for me, despite the fact that this episode was pretty rote: Burns is evil, Homer is scheming, Marge is honest, etc.

Of course, the specifics of Burns evilness, Homer’s schemes and Marge’s honesty are reliably funny, as is Bart’s trip to Hell after Burns hits him, but we really don’t learn anything – I mean besides that Bart isn’t supposed to arrive in Hell until the next time the Yankees won the pennant “and that’s nearly a century from now!”  

And the end, where Homer has to look into Marge’s eyes to be reminded that he still loves her even though her honesty cost them $1,000,000 is maybe the first “Simpsons did it” in the history of The Simpsons, as they’d pretty much done the same thing at the end of “Bart vs. Thanksgiving.”

Still, PHIL HARTMAN!

S2, E9: “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”

“I guess that one person can make a difference, but most of the time, they probably shouldn’t.” – Marge.

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Written by: John Swartzwelder.

Here’s what I love about this episode: it lets nobody off of the hook.

It goes after censorship do-gooders who want to impose their own personal morality on the entire world all the while consuming that art fervently underneath the guise of “cataloging” it.

It goes after bottom-line, bottom-feeding entertainment execs who hide behind the principle of free speech to purposely load the world with crap just because it sells.

It shows that Marge has a point, as Maggie is shown to be influenced by the cartoon no matter what it shows – and the children of Springfield stop watching Itchy & Scratchy toactually go outside and play when a more wholesome version airs.

It shows that the entertainment execs have a point, as the people who rallied around Marge want to next go after the nudity in Michelangelo’s “David” – and the children of Springfield stop watching Itchy & Scratchy toactually go outside and play when a more wholesome version airs.

Where I personally fall on this subject can probably gleaned from the fact that – in all of the long years – the only piece of non-content Simpsons memorabilia I ever purchased was an (long gone) Itchy & Scratchy Show T-shirt.

That said, I really hate art that beats me about the head with my own opinions, a la The Newsroom. As a comedy, even a comedy with a point of view, The Simpsons was always free to make fun of what was clearly that point of view, especially in service of a good joke.

S2, E8: “Bart The Daredevil”

“TRUCK-O-SAURUS!!” – Homer & Bart.

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Written by: Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky.

So here’s a thing I’ll freely admit: when this episode first aired, I really didn’t like the ending. It felt “too cartoony” to me, and here’s why: after spending most of the back half of the episode explaining how dangerous and deep Springfield Gorge was, to have Homer fall into it – twice! – just stretched the bounds of credulity.

Of course, this was still during the era where the focus was on Bart, and the writers really hadn’t established Homer’s absolute indestructibility as a series trope, so this first instance of that felt weird to me.

I was an idiot.

In an episode that featured the Simpson family car getting destroyed by a giant fire-breathing robotic monster truck, cats and dogs laying down together so Bart could jump them and the brilliant site gag that illustrates this piece (one of my favorite Simpsons moments ever), Homer falling into the Springfield Gorge – twice! – was actually the perfect ending.

Pure, brilliant slapstick, continually topping itself and culminating with the ambulance crashing into the tree and Homer rolling out and back into the gorge. 

The whole sequence was definitely a reminder to smarty-pants overthinkers like me that, yes, The Simpsons was very very much a cartoon, and therefore would sometimes be governed by the same laws as previous cartoons.

From the historical standpoint, this episode marks the first appearance of Dr. Hibbert, a character created to reference the fact that The Simpsons had moved to Thursdays to directly take on The Cosby Show.  However, as is often the case with first appearances, neither the writers quite had a take on the character, so there wasn’t any inappropriate statements followed by laughter – just a straight, stern doctor.

S2, E7: “Bart Vs. Thanksgiving”

“Hello, Operator! Give me the number for 911!” – Homer.

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Written by: George Meyer.

It goes to the comedic genius of The Simpsons that they could get away with deeply cynical social & political satire as well as straightforward heartwarming tales.

This falls into the later camp of course, as Bart accidentally destroys Lisa’s elaborate Thanksgiving centerpiece and then runs away from home instead of apologizing to Lisa.

So Bart – accompanied by Santa’s Little Helper – wanders around Springfield, gets chased by Burns’ hounds and eventually ends up at a homeless shelter, where he realizes how good he actually has it and eventually apologizes to Lisa.

Which is fine, but of course I prefer the cynical social satire every time.

S2, E6: “Dead Putting Society”

“Homer, I couldn’t help overhearing you warp Bart’s mind.” – Marge.

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Written by: Jeff Martin

The simmering tension between Homer and his perfect neighbor Ned Flanders boils over into all-out war. Well, kinda: the war is actually played out via a miniature golf tournament pitting Bart against Todd Flanders.

The father of the boy who doesn’t win has to mow his law wearing his wife’s best Sunday dress.  Bart and Todd, who aren’t enemies, though they aren’t really friends, either, decide to call it a draw rather than cope with the pressure put on them by their fathers.

Don’t have a whole lot to say about this episode, other than during the mini-golf montage one of the holes as Itchy & Scratchy, which is to be expected, but for some reason, Scratchy is hurting Itchy, instead of the other way around.

Don’t know if this is an animation error or reflection that maybe originally Scratchy was going to inflict as much carnage as Itchy, and then they decided it was funnier to make Scratchy the Washington Generals. 

In any event, the Flanders family wasn’t yet quite the comedic goldmine they would be in future episodes – hell, Ned was even drinking microbrew and had a game room – but you could see the writers figuring out who they were.